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M.F.A., Emerson College, 1994 

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the 

requirements for the degree of 



© Copyright by 



Approved By 


Patrick Cheng, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology 



Faculty Reader, 

Gale Yee, Ph.D. 
Nancy W. King Professor of Biblical Studies 

Peer Reader 

Lavonne Seifert 

Our Final Voyage: 
From the Titanic to the Ark as Models for Environmental Survival 

Susan Spilecki, MFA 

Abstract: This master's thesis will offer two models to examine worldviews 
for human survival: the Titanic and the Ark. I conclude that the Ark represents 
the preferable worldview from an ecological perspective and argue that it is 
the basis for a more egalitarian view of laity in the church. I also suggest 
similar such studies as the basis for lay-led Christian formation activities 
centered on Creation care. 

This thesis is dedicated 

to the memory of John Fenton, 

my paternal grandmother's uncle, 

who had planned to stow away on the Titanic, 

but who, due to an altercation with English policemen, 

missed the boat 

and thereby sidestepped a terrible destiny; 


to all of us on Earth, human and nonhuman, 

that we may share the same 

good fortune. 


Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, 

you 're not ready for the big moments. 

No one asks for their life to change, not really. 

But it does. 

So what are we, helpless? Puppets? 

No. The big moments are going to come. 

You can 't help that. 

It 's what you do afterwards that counts. 
That 's when you find out who you are. 

You 7/ see what I mean. 

—Joss Whedon 


Table of Contents 
List of Illustrations 

Chapter 1: Modeling the World's Survival with Voyages 

Chapter 2: The Titanic as a Faulty Model of Environmental Survival 

2.1 The Story of the Titanic 

2.1.1 Context 

2. 1 .2 Construction 

2.1.3 Physical and Social Organization 

2. 1 .4 Nonhuman Nature 

2.1.5 Mission 

2.1.6 Voyage 

2.2 The Titanic as a Faulty Model for Environmental Survival 

2.2.1 The Model as Cartesian 

2.2.2 The Model as Progressivist 

2.2.3 The Model as Mechanistic 

2.2.4 The Model as Anthropocentric 

Chapter 3: The Ark as a Useful Model of Environmental Survival 

3.1 The Ark as a Model of the World 
3.1.1. Reason for the Voyage 

3.1.2 Building of the Vessel 

3.1.3 Passengers & Stores 

3 . 1 .4 Embarkation 

3.1.5 Threat to Life 

3.1.6 Voyage 

3.1.7 Threat Abated 

3.2 The Ark as a Useful Model of Environmental Survival 

3.2.1 The Model as Organic, Systems-focused and Dynamic 

3.2.2 The Model as Communal and Biocentric 

3.2.3 The Model as Motivated by Peril and the Need for Survival 

3.3 Limitations and Adjustments 

Chapter 4: Conclusions and Future Directions 

Appendix A: Illustrations 

Appendix B: The Problem of Animal Sacrifice 

Appendix C: Democratic Study Group Guidelines 



List of Illustrations 

Al The Ark is Finished 

A2 Noah Convenes the Animals and Finds No Ear 

A3 Unmannerly Conduct 

A4 Food and Family 

A5 The First Drop 

A6 The Flood 

A7 The Seasickness 

A8 Cheerful Trip 

A9 Homesickness 

A10 Quarrel and Dispute 

Al 1 Noah Sends the Raven Out 



And the world will be better for this... - Mitch Leigh 

Many people helped me build and launch this thesis. I thank my advisor, Dr. 
Patrick Cheng, for helping me keep my ideas trim enough to meet EDS's requirements in 
a timely fashion. I thank my reader, Dr. Gale Yee, for teaching me how to handle "texts 
of terror" such as the Book of Genesis and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 
Change's annual reports. I thank Lavonne Siefert, my student reader, for leaping in again. 

Thanks to my atheist/agnostic/Jewish/Buddhist /pagan friends who supported my 
decision to study theology when I burned out teaching writing: Dr. Cecelia Musselman, 
Dr. Gaynor Blandford, Dr. Haidee Lorrey, Joshua White, Amanda Sobel and Thalia 
Rubio. I especially thank Thalia for raising funds on my 40th birthday to help pay for the 
first course I took before I matriculated. This money enabled me to stick my toe in the 
water without financial risk; more importantly it showed how much my friends and 
family wanted me to be happy. Amanda and Thalia are just two colleagues from the MIT 
Writing Center who supported my explorations at EDS. I thank also Dr. Steven Strang for 
his patience with my scheduling problems as I fit my studies around my work for him. I 
thank Dr. Robert Irwin for our fascinating discussions on nonviolence and social change, 
and for his recommendation of books by Frances Moore Lappe and Warwick Fox, and of 
his own book, Building a Peace System. I thank Marilyn Levine for recommending 
Avivah Zornberg's book, The Beginning of Desire. I thank Dr. Betsy Fox, Gay Haldeman 
and Betty Harris for always asking how it was going, and for caring about the answer. 
Last, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Pamela Siska, who read all my EDS papers 


and who sat with me in December when I was melting down over how to organize this 
thesis. She read the next-to-last draft before I turned it in and gave me practical and 
constructive ideas to make it stronger. Truly, it takes a village to raise a writer. I am 
privileged to be a part of the MIT Writing Center. 

I am grateful to those at Episcopal Divinity School who supported my growing 
commitment to environmental survival: Dr. Susie Snyder, Dr. Kwok Pui-Lan, Lauren 
Johnson, Susan Taylor, Karen Ysewyn, and Lavonne Siefert. 

I also thank former and present roommates for their support and love, in particular 
David Corey, Jenna Tucker, Meredith Yanchak, and MeToo Yanchak. As Rainer Maria 
Rilke wrote, "We could easily be made to believe that nothing has happened, and yet we 
have changed, as a house changes into which a guest has entered. We cannot say who has 
come, perhaps we shall never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters into us 
in this way in order to transform itself in us long before it happens." 

I thank my family for helping me become the person who would write this thesis. 
My father, Stanley Spilecki, has always held environmental conservation as a crucial 
value. My mother, Sandra Spilecki, has always treated animals like people. My sister, 
Michelle, and my brother, Stan, have inspired me with books and music, which have 
reinforced my care for the environment and my understanding that beauty must be a part 
of environmental sustainability. Finally, I thank Musashi for helping me to see the 
integral value of nonhuman animals and for swatting me on the back of the head when I 
sat at the computer too long. Sometimes it is time to write, and sometimes it is time to 
chase the laser pointer. I am blessed by your presence in my life. 


Chapter 1: Modeling the World's Survival with Voyages 

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; 
These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he 
commandeth, andraiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves 
thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: 
their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger 
like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end — Psalm 107:23-7 

Over the last 200 years, mass industrial society has triggered changes in the global 
climate that will take decades to mitigate where mitigation is even possible. Economists 
advise moving to more sustainable forms of growth or development, but the definitions of 
the words "sustainable," "growth," and "development" are all still widely debated by 
different stakeholders with their own agendas; governments, corporations, political 
parties, and environmentalists clash not just on policies of mitigation and adaptation but 
also on the words we might best use to speak about such things. All this leaves ordinary 
citizens struggling to make sense of how this catastrophe came about and what we can do 
at this late date to mitigate its worst effects. This struggle requires not only an 
understanding of the mechanisms of climate change — how greenhouse gases trap the 
sun's rays, warming the Earth, melting glaciers, raising sea levels and increasing the 
frequency and destructiveness of extreme weather events. It also requires "social and 
institutional analysis that. . .show both how to examine high carbon societies and also 
what would need to happen for shifting to low carbon societies." 1 

Our baptismal vows include resisting evil, repenting of sin, striving "for justice 
and peace among all people, and respectpng] the dignity of every human being," 2 so such 
social and institutional analysis is a theological project. Sallie McFague argues, "North 

1 John Urry, Climate Change and Society (Cambridge: Polity Press, 201 1), 13. 

2 Book of Common Prayer 304-5. 

American theology should be about economics and politics, consumerism and its 
alternatives, global warming and diversity, but ay they contribute or diminish to giving 
glory to God by loving the world." 3 1 believe North American Christians need to do this 
theology for themselves, not wait for it to be done by ecclesiastical "authorities." For the 
Christian laity, who live in the material world and come together due to a shared faith in 
their Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, the environmental crisis is an opportunity to take 
up baptismal power and authority. My experience with RENEW in the Roman Catholic 
Church of the 1980s was empowering; groups of laypeople met in each other's homes for 
Bible study. The environmental crisis, as a global catastrophe with deep theological 
reverberations, offers the content for similar such local small Christian formation groups. 

This thesis examines one kind of social and institutional study that might be used 
in this context. McFague recommends that we begin by reflecting on two worldviews: the 
mechanistic and the organic. I agree that worldview is a crucial beginning point for 
teaching the faithful theological analysis in the context of the environment. I present 
models of the two worldviews that McFague considers, and I have chosen my models to 
capture people's imaginations and motivate them to do social analysis that will enable 
them to create new visions of future flourishing on Earth. 

Joseph Campbell offers the journey of a single hero fighting obstacles as the 
symbolic story common to all cultures. Yet this symbol has participated in the romantic 
Western individualism and framing of life in militarized terms that have played a major 
role in bringing Earth to our current crisis, so it is inappropriate for my purposes. Instead, 
I propose the archetype of the voyage, by definition a communal venture. For my models, 

Sallie McFague, Life Abundant (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 20ZZ), 39. 

I offer, for the present situation, the voyage of the Titanic, and for a vision of a different 
future, the voyage of the Ark. Both will be tested for their ability to serve as models of 
what the world is and could be and as models that can help us survive in the world as it is 
rapidly changing around us. 

McFague writes, "[S]ince no metaphor or model refers.. . directly to God, many 

are necessary [S]ome. . . aspects of the God- world relationship are illuminated by this 

or that model in a fashion relevant to a particular time and place." 4 Institutionalized forms 
of oppression — racism, sexism, classism, speciesism, 5 etc. — support anti-environmental 
agendas. But as James Cone notes, 6 it isn't easy to foster cooperation between oppressed 
communities who understand the structures of oppression and environmentalists who are 
immersed in white, middle-class privilege. The causes of the crisis we have inherited are 
complex and hard to see. We need to expose how intertwining systems of oppression 
have undermined the flourishing of humanity and of all life on our planet. Then we need 
to reconstruct our modes of living. Because human imagination and behavior are both 
closely related and resistant to change, we need first to change our ways of seeing the 
world and then to live toward this vision of wholeness. 

I hope this thesis will serve as a step in this direction. It is organized as follows. 

Chapter 2 proposes the Titanic, with its context, goal, physical and social 
organization, and the roles played by nonhuman nature as a model for our current socio- 
environmental situation. The Titanic embodied a classist division of humanity, an 
anthropocentric alienation from nature, and a technocratic reductionism that are all 

4 Sallie McFague, Models of God (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), 38-39. 

5 Lisa Kemmerer, ed., Sister Species: Women, Animals, and SocialJmtice (Urbana: University of Illinois 
Press, 2011). 

6 James Cone, "Whose Earth Is It, Anyway?" in Earth Habitat, ed. Dieter Hessel and Larry Rasmussen 
(Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001), 23-32. 

deeply idolatrous. I show how the Titanic is a faulty model of environmental survival, 
and how, due to its mythic place in our culture, it is also a useful cautionary tale likely to 
engage the imaginations of the faithful in a renewed Christian formation for an age of 
environmental crisis. 

In Chapter 3, 1 use the ancient story of humans and nonhumans voyaging together 
on the Ark to create a new model of the world toward which we need to move. The Ark 
embodied mutual coexistence, interrelationship, and humility before the Creator and 
creation. While this model is still imperfect, it has clear advantages over the mode of the 
Titanic. Two extra-biblical resources I use to build this model are Jewish midrash and the 
1925 German children's book, Die Geschichte der Arche Noah (The Story of Noah 's 
Ark), with its insightful illustrations by E.B. Smith. I also critique the Ark as a model of 
environmental survival. 

Chapter 4 offers conclusions and suggests future directions for a "mutual 
formation" form of study groups to engage Christians in institutional analysis and ethical 
investigation of our world as it is and as we would like it to be. 

Chapter 2: The Titanic as a Faulty Model of Environmental Survival 

People possess four things 

that are not good at sea: 

rudder, anchor, oars 

and the fear of going down. — Antonio Machado 

Though it sailed one hundred years ago, the RMS Titanic is a fitting model of the 
worldviews that support modernity as it faces environmental disaster. In this chapter, I 
describe the Titanic, from its context, construction, physical and social organization, and 
the roles played by nonhuman nature, to its mission and its ill-fated voyage. I show how 
all these elements add up to a complex of mechanistic progressivism and anthropocentric 
denial of the interrelationships necessary for environmental survival, which is clearly 
idolatrous. Then, I show how, in its unrealistic mapping of reality, the worldview 
illustrated by the model of the Titanic acts in our society today much like the faulty 
mental models that keep people from surviving disasters. 
2.1 The Story of the Titanic 

2.1.1 Context 

In 1912, the world was enjoying vast and rapid changes in technology and 
society. In the preceding century, "[m]ankind's rate of travel overland had more than 
trebled, while at sea it had more than quadrupled," enabling ships to cross the Atlantic 
Ocean in less than a week. The previous decade saw "the introduction of the phonograph, 
wireless telegraphy, turbine-powered steamships, the electric light,... heavier-than-air 
flying machines, motion pictures — all of them reliable apparatus rather than mere 
technical novelties." 7 The discoveries of Marie Curie and Einstein, and the theories of 

7 Daniel Allen Butler, "Unsinkable": The Full Story of the RMS Titanic (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole 
Books, 1998), 25-6. 

Freud, Jung, and Pavlov entered the conversation of the day and changed social relations 
while supporting a more secularized social fabric. Tensions between the classes rose. 
"Just over one percent of the population of Great Britain controlled 67 percent of the 
nation's money, a proportion that held equally true for the United States." 8 

2.1.2 Construction 

The Titanic itself was, first of all, a manmade technological construction, the 
product of an immense amount of natural resources, especially the iron ore stripped from 
the earth and forged into steel. It was the product of skilled human labor and the source of 
a great deal of employment, from the dozen designers and master shipbuilders to the 
3,000 men who "swarmed over her growing shape as her shell plating was gradually laid 
over her frame and her internal structure was completed." 9 The ship was true to its name: 
882.5 feet long and 93 feet wide, with a displacement of 45,000 tons and a top speed of 
24 knots. It was not the fastest ocean liner, but it still required 3.25 minutes and 3,000 
feet to come to a full stop. 10 The White Star Line chose to spend money on opulence 
rather than speed. The first-class smoking room exemplified this opulence. "A carefully 
orchestrated assembly of carved mahogany-paneled walls, inset with leaded glass panels 
and etched-patterned mirrors, enclosed the handsomely linoleumed floor, on which sat 
massive leather-covered armchairs beside lovingly carved, marble-topped tables." 11 

2. 1. 3 Physical and Social Organization 

On its maiden voyage in April 1912, the Titanic accommodated slightly more 
than half the passengers it was designed to carry. In first class, 337 passengers occupied 

Butler 26. 


9 Butler 11-12. 

10 Butler 237, 21. 

Butler 18. 

suites that cost $4,350 for a one-way passage, the equivalent of over $80,000 in 1997 
dollars. The six decks of second class, while less grand, were comparable to first class on 
any other North Atlantic liner; the 271 second-class passengers shared the four-star galley 
with first class. 12 The 712 third-class passengers enjoyed quarters that were "spacious, 
spotless, and. ..a bit austere," and food that was good and plentiful, particularly compared 
to food back home in the more impoverished areas, such as Ireland. 

In its structure, the Titanic embodied the values of modern first-world life. It was 
a floating city, where people of different economic backgrounds were thrown together 
and separated, stratified, literally, by "class." First-class passengers included more than a 
dozen whose net worth exceeded £300 million, and who were treated accordingly. In 
contrast, the steerage decks complied with a "requirement of American law. . . that locked 
barricades be set up between steerage and the other passengers," 15 to prevent the spread 
of infectious diseases immigrants were thought to bring with them. 
2.1.4 Nonhuman Nature 

The passengers and crew were also alienated from nature. The nonhuman animals 
onboard came in the form of 75,000 lbs. of fresh meat, 25,000 lbs. of poultry and game, 
15,000 lbs. offish, and 10,000 lbs. of bacon, ham and sausages, as well as 40,000 fresh 
eggs. 16 Inside the ship was human culture: lending library, gymnasium, smoking room, 
Turkish baths, and a squash court. 17 Outside was the North Atlantic Ocean, not a habitat 
or agent capable of action, but a path to cross from Southampton, England to New York. 

12 Butler 19 

13 Butler 20 

14 Butler 27. 

15 Butler 40. 

16 Butler 36. 

17 Butler 18. 

The Titanic' s reliance on nature could only be seen in the 162 coal furnaces in which 650 
tons of coal burned per day to maintain top speed. 18 The voyage was nearly postponed 
due to a coal strike. Welsh coal miners were protesting horrid working conditions, so coal 
was scarce and expensive. To keep on schedule, the White Star Line took coal from the 
Oceanic and the Adriatic, 19 which had been scheduled to sail the following week. 
2.1.5 Mission 

The Titanic^ mission is also representative. From its inception as the largest, 
most luxurious ship of the White Star Line, the Titanic was meant to be as much a 
symbol as a vehicle for profit. J. Bruce Ismay, director of the White Star Line, and Lord 
William Pirrie, chairman of the Harland and Wolff shipyard, imagined the Titanic as a 
response to the Cunard Line's new superliners, the Lusitania and the Mauretania. Cunard 
had built these ships with help from the British government in the form of "sizable annual 
operating subsidies, low-interest loans, and Admiralty assistance" 20 in their design. It is 
significant that the technological assistance that enabled these ships to be the fastest in 
the world came from the Admiralty's experience building ships for the British Navy to 
fight the British Empire's wars and protect its colonies. Since they could not beat Cunard 
in speed without such technological help, Ismay and Pirrie opted to beat them in size and 
luxury instead. With the Oceanic, Adriatic, and Titanic, White Star envisioned offering 
"weekly sailing east- and west-bound and [maintaining] a cargo and passenger capacity 
that would nearly double that of the two Cunard ships." 21 Had the Titanic not sunk, this 
business model could have generated enormous profits. 


Butler 17,237. 
Butler 37. 

20 Butler 9. 

21 Butler 10. 

The passengers of different classes had different goals for embarking on the 

Titanic. In an age that valued amassing enormous amounts of wealth and showing it off 

through conspicuous consumption, the first-class passengers were simply traveling in 

their accustomed style. The third-class, steerage, passengers, were in a different situation: 

Many were Germans, whose Fatherland was undergoing a rapid transformation 
from an agrarian society to an industrial juggernaut, with all the attendant social 
dislocations; many others were Britons, often skilled or semiskilled workers, 
forced to seek employment in America as Britain began her slow decline 
industrially and economically. To these people a ship was transportation. . P" 

For the 892 crewmembers, the ship was simply a workplace, albeit an extraordinary one. 
2.1.6 Voyage 

On April 10, 1912, the Titanic began its maiden voyage. As tugboats pulled it 
from the Southampton quay to the River Test, it passed the New York and Oceanic. "The 
suction of her wake drew the two smaller vessels away from the dock.... [T]he New York 
was pulled helplessly toward the Titanic.'" 23 Captain Smith stopped engines. Tugs pulled 
the New York away. This incident disturbed some passengers. One said, "That was a bad 
omen. Get off this ship at Cherbourg, if we get that far. That's what I'm going to do." 24 

Beyond the passengers, the crew, and the ship itself, perhaps the most important 

actor in the Titanic drama was the iceberg, and one of the most repeated questions is why 

the ship hit it when it had so many warnings of the southward-drifting ice fields. 

In addition to the Caronia's warning, there were warnings sent by the 
Noordam and the Amerika, which had been sent to the bridge, although no one 
seemed to know exactly what happened to them. There was also a message 
sent by the Baltic still sitting uselessly in Bruce Ismay's jacket pocket. And, 


Butler 19 
Butler 4 1 



Quoted in Butler 42. 

unknown to anyone on the bridge, yet another message had arrived. . .from 

The Mesaba's message detailed the latitude and longitude of large icebergs and field ice. 
"The Titanic was already inside the rectangle described in the Mesaba's message, and 
had Captain Smith known this he might have considered changing course or reducing 
speed." 26 This message was still in the telegrapher's office, unheeded like the other four. 
Making the situation more difficult was the clear weather, "since the chop a breeze 
usually kicked up would make it easier to spot any ice ahead as it washed up against the 
base of a berg or a growler." 27 Worse yet, there were no binoculars in the crow's nest. 

All these conditions converged at 1 1:40 pm on April 14, 1912 when the lookouts 
suddenly saw an iceberg directly ahead. First Officer Murdoch ordered the ship turned 
hard starboard. At the last second, the berg brushed past, casting chunks of ice on the 
deck. There was "a faint, metallic ripping sound." 28 Immediately, Murdoch shut the 
watertight doors to the engine and boiler rooms as a precaution. It was unclear whether 
the ship had been struck. Over the next two hours, recognition of the ship's peril was 
gradual and erratic, occurring first among crew and only later among passengers. Steward 
Johnson thought the sound was that of a dropped propeller blade. 29 The passenger Major 
Peuchen thought a wave had hit the ship. 30 The commutator showed the ship to be 
"listing five degrees to starboard and two degrees down by the head," which told 
Captain Smith that the ship was seriously damaged. His inspection showed "the forward 






Butler 63. 

Butler 63-4. 

Butler 64. A growler is a large chunk of ice that comes off an iceberg. 

Butler 67. 

Butler 67. 

Butler 69-70. 

Butler 71. 


cargo holds flooded, the mailroom awash, and the squash court floor covered with 
water. ... Boiler Room No. 6 was flooded to a depth of fourteen feet. . ," 32 

And all of this had taken only ten seconds. 

If this danger came as a shock to passengers for whom sea travel was a rare 
experience, for Captain Smith, who had been at sea for forty years without mishap, the 
accident was enervating. In 1906, he told reporters about the Adriatic, "I cannot conceive 
of any disaster causing this ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond 
that." 33 Worse still for Smith and Ismay was the knowledge that the ship carried 2,207 
passengers and crew, but lifeboats for only 1,178. British Board of Trade regulations did 
not consider new shipbuilding technologies, and required the number of lifeboats based 
on the tonnage of a ship rather than the number of its passengers. In 1910, "Ismay had 
been presented with a plan to equip the ships with as many as forty-eight lifeboats, with a 
total capacity of 2,886 persons. . . . Ismay studied the plan for a few minutes, then rejected 
it on grounds of expense.... He then returned to questions about the ship's decor." 34 

The disparity between what the crew and passengers understood about the 
situation was stark. The crew was frenziedly attempting to prevent the icy waters from 
reaching the fiery coals and exploding. Boiler Rooms No. 5 and 6 were abandoned and 
shut tight. Their crews went to Deck E to help draw fires from the boilers and pump the 
water out in Boiler Room No. 4. 35 The two telegraphers took turns tapping out the 
distress call, the Titanic' s call letters and its position, over and over. In contrast, the 
passengers did not know how to interpret the sounds and sensations on the ship. For 

32 Butler 71. 

33 Quoted in Butler 72. 

34 Butler 93-4. 


Butler 81. 


most, "it was only when the Titanic's engines stopped that [they] noticed anything 
amiss." 36 Others noticed when the ship's listing made using stairways difficult 37 They 
asked for explanations. Many of the crew frankly lied to avoid panic, saying the ship had 
burst pipes when they knew that the reality was much worse. 38 Few passengers felt alarm. 
Some "playfully threw chunks of ice... at each other." 39 Passengers in third class learned 
the truth sooner than others; being [roomed] lower down in the ship, they heard the crash 
better than those above. They were close enough to the engine rooms to investigate, see 
the water, and try to find their way topside. 40 Passengers on other levels reminded each 
other of the unsinkability of the Titanic. 41 Officers encouraged the passengers to put on 
lifebelts and meet on deck, but they were met with complaints and hesitation; some were 
ignored. Even officers had an unequal understanding of the situation: the Countess of 
Rothes was told by one steward to get her lifebelt and go to Deck A, and by another that 
such actions were unnecessary. 42 Even when the peril was recognized, confusion and 
disbelief reigned. Second Officer Lightoller had to get Captain Smith to explicitly order 
the officers to load the lifeboats and lower them to the sea. The passengers hesitated to 
leave the warmth of the enclosed part of Deck A and enter the freezing air to get into the 
boats. The newly painted pulleys and falls were sticky and erratic, making people think 
more safety might lie on the ship than in the boats. 43 

36 Butler 89. 

37 Butler 82. 

38 Butler 76-7, 81-2. 

39 Butler 78. 

40 Butler 79-80. 

41 Butler 80, 82. 



Butler 84. 
Butler 93. 


Around 12:30, when word came to start loading third class women and children 
into the lifeboats, Steward Hart realized that the extra bulkheads required by law to 
impede the spread of disease would actually impede the steerage passengers from finding 
their way topside, so he made several trips all the way down into the labyrinthine 
passageways and led groups of women and children up. There was "no deliberate policy 
of discrimination against Third Class. ...[S]imply no policy or procedure for looking after 
the Third Class passengers existed." 44 In the end, out of 712 steerage passengers, only 
177 were saved: 75 men, 76, women, and 26 children. 45 

The story of the Titanic is notable not only for the size of the ship and of the 
mistakes that were made, but also for the ways those aboard met their hour of trial. 
"Some things. . . never change. Courage, selflessness, meeting death with dignity are 
immutable. So are cowardice, arrogance and stupidity. These qualities were all present in 
those aboard the Titanic the night she sank." 46 People's responses to crises depend on 
many things, from personality to professional training, from a strong grasp of social 
customs to a strong grasp on life. However, social convention is rigid. Our actions are 
what brand us cowards or heroes; but the extent to which social forgiveness is proffered 
depends also on culpability. So, on one hand, we have those who had no responsibility 
for the disaster, such as eighteen-year-old Daniel Buckley and ten-year-old Billy Carter, 
who sneaked onto lifeboats wearing shawls over their heads to pass as women, 47 and 
Benjamin Guggenheim, who laid aside his lifebelt, donned his white tie and tails, and in a 
fit of noblesse oblige declared, "We've dressed in our best and are prepared to go down 

44 Butler 105. 

45 Butler 238-9. Numbers are approximate, being based on the published passenger list, which did not 
include later cancellations or passengers traveling under assumed names. 

46 Butler xii. 

47 Butler 121, 128. 


like gentlemen." 48 Neither boy suffered public humiliation, and Guggenheim was 
lionized. Also noted were the men in the engine room who, though released from their 
duties, remained at their posts trying to keep the power going for the lights and the 
telegraph. They too went down with the ship. 49 

In contrast, two passengers who had some responsibility were Bruce Ismay, 
director of the White Star Line, and Thomas Andrews, director of Harland and Wolff, 
and the master shipbuilder who oversaw the building of the Titanic. Their contrasting 
choices would be loudly noted in days to come. Ismay, after helping load woman and 
children onto many lifeboats, suddenly "jumped into an empty spot near the bow" of a 
boat that was being lowered. 50 Andrews, in contrast, was last seen standing in the first 
class lounge, staring fixedly at a painting. After the sinking, many suggested that Ismay 
should have gone down with the ship, and that his failure to do so was "cowardly. . .and 
brutal." 51 Hounded out of White Star, Ismay died a recluse twenty years later. 

For those who made it to lifeboats the difficulties were far from over. On Boat 6, 
Quartermaster Hitchens ordered the others to row away from the ship and refused the 
women's insistence that they try to pick up those struggling in the water. By the time 
Molly Brown threatened to throw him overboard, the cries for help had stopped. Brown 
took the tiller and arranged for the women to take turns rowing to keep warm. Back on 
the Titanic, as crew fought to release more lifeboats, Collapsible B fell to the Boat Deck 
upside down. Being two tons, it was impossible to overturn. When the ship began to sink, 
waves washed it into the water, still upside-down. Dozens of men swam to it and climbed 

48 Butler 104, 123. 

49 Butler 131. 

50 Butler 126. 

51 Butler 182. 

52 Butler 147-8. 


on. They stood there, watching the Titanic disappear into the sea and then said the Lord's 
Prayer together. For the next two hours the men fought to stay awake and stay standing 
on the boat's keel. Many, including telegrapher Jack Phillips, froze to death and slid off 
into the sea. Not long before the Carpathia picked up the survivors, Boats 4 and 12 
picked up the thirty men who had managed to stay alive soaking wet in the freezing air. 
2.2 The Titanic as a Faulty Model for Environmental Survival 

The worldview modeled by the Titanic, originating as it does in technological 
progress and an acceptance of inequality among humans and between humans and 
nonhuman nature, illustrates a misplacement of value so profound as to be idolatrous. Yet 
the great thinkers of the modern era who began the kind of thinking that led to this 
worldview were in fact themselves just trying to understand the world in more and better 
detail. That their yearning for knowledge degenerated over the centuries to ways of 
thinking and being that have led to great damage in the world is as tragic as it is ironic. 

Physicist Fritjof Capra argues that "high inflation and unemployment,. . .an energy 
crisis, a crisis in health care, pollution and other environmental disasters, a rising wave of 
violence and crime, and so on. ... are all different facets of. . . the same crisis,. . . a crisis of 
perception." 54 He claims this crisis comes from 'trying to apply the concepts of an 
outdated worldview — the mechanistic world view of Cartesian-Newtonian science — to a 
reality that can no longer be understood in terms of these concepts." 55 Applying an old 
perception to a new situation or changed environment is a common human behavior that 
often leads to tragedy. In this section, I show how the worldview illustrated by the model 

53 Butler 131, 142, 148-9,154. 

54 Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point (New York: Bantam, 1982), 15. 

55 Capra 15-6. 


of the Titanic acts in our society today much like the faulty mental models that keep 
people from surviving disasters. 

Laurence Gonzales studies how people succeed or fail at surviving extreme crisis 
situations. He describes mental models as a "strategy the brain uses for handling 
complicated problems"; mental models are "stripped-down schematics of the world 
[which]. . . may tell you the rules by which an environment behaves or the color and 
shape of a familiar object." 56 He compares our use of mental models to the adaptation of 
the immune system, which identifies materials in its environment as harmful or harmless. 
"A lifetime of experience builds the system, but a subtle change in the environment can 
mean that the system no longer has the correct response." 57 Similarly, humans react to 
their environments based on experience; however, "[y]ou need to know if your particular 
experience has produced the sort of adaptation that will contribute to survival... And 
when the environment changes, you have to be aware that your own experience might be 
inappropriate." In life-or-death situations, people who cannot change their mental 
models to match the new situation fail to survive. Similarly, the Cartesian, mechanistic 
worldview that has so absorbed the modern world has become a threat to human survival. 

In his attempt to revolutionize thought, Rene Descartes created the rigorous 
discipline now known as the scientific method. "Twentieth-century physics has shown us 
very forcefully that there is no absolute truth in science, that all our concepts and theories 
are limited and approximate." 59 However, over the centuries, Descartes' method became, 

56 Laurence Gonzales, Deep Survival (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003), 69. 

57 Gonzales, Deep, 59. 

58 Gonzales, Deep, 113. 

59 Capra 57. 


at least in the West, "the only valid way of understanding the universe." 60 While Capra 
admits that Descartes' analytical approach was an immense contribution to science, he 
notes that "overemphasis on the Cartesian method has led to. . .the widespread attitude of 
reductionism in science — the belief that all aspects of complex phenomena can be 
understood by reducing them to their constituent parts." 61 Such reductionism can lead to a 
sort of machine-ism, as when Descartes wrote, "I do not recognize any difference 
between the machines made by craftsmen and the various bodies that nature alone 
composes." 62 The corollary of this view is that the parts are replaceable; "moreover, 
reality is not alive, and therefore we have no responsibility toward it — we can use and 
discard it when worn out." 63 But everything is not replaceable; when a person dies or a 
species is forced into extinction, nothing can take its place. 

Further, our culture believes in and values the ideas of economic growth and 
progress. "In both its Marxist and its capitalist expressions, modernity assumed that the 
redemptive factor was inherent in the historical process as such — that progress for all was 
inevitable." 64 Adam Smith, who described the process of economic growth, foresaw the 
problems we face today. "Smith himself predicted that economic progress would 
eventually come to an end when the wealth of nations had been pushed to the natural 
limits of soil and climate." 65 Extraordinary gains can have extraordinary costs. Increased 
standards of living come in part from manufactured products that make life easier, which 
themselves come from the exploitation of the environment, the violent extraction and 

60 Capra 58. 

61 Capra 59. 

62 Quoted in Capra 61. 

63 McFague, Life Abundant, 42. 

64 Joanna Adams, "Hope as the Intractable Resolve of the Spirit*' in Hope for the World: Mission in Global 
Context, Ed. Walter Brueggeman (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2010), 17. 

65 Capra 201 


polluting practices of mass industrial production. Increases innutrition, sanitation, and 
health lead to higher life expectancy and to large increases in human population, which 
lead to more demand on the earth's capacity to provide food, water, and mass-produced 
products. We are reaching the limits of the Earth's carrying capacity; environmental 
scientists warn that the damage done by mass industrial society is creating major changes 
in the global climate that will have catastrophic consequences. 

Some people ignore the danger of climate change because they assume "we" will 
come up with new technology to mitigate or reverse it. This is in tune with the 
mechanistic worldview; if the world is a machine, then fixing the parts should fix the 
whole. "Individuals and institutions... have come to believe that every problem has a 
technological solution." 66 Technology is assumed to be perfectable, as seen with Captain 
Smith's unwarranted faith in twentieth-century shipbuilding. 

Underlying the technocratic mass industrial system, particularly in the West, is a 

deep-seated individualistic consumerism that reinforces unrealistic behavior at all levels. 

In 1900, Andrew Carnegie published The Gospel of Wealth, in which he wrote that the 

capitalist economy "is founded upon the present most intense Individualism... Under its 

sway we shall have an ideal State, in which the surplus wealth of the few will become in 

the best sense, the property of the many, because administered for the common good..." 

Carnegie's philosophy, shared by many of the very wealthy then and now, is founded on 

Social Darwinism, which teaches that individuals who achieve success must be superior, 

since the fittest survive the social struggle. 68 This ignores the part played by other social 

institutions, such as racism and sexism, and their legal and material counterparts, which, 

66 Capra218. 

67 Quoted in Rebecca Todd Peters, In Search of the Good Life (New York: Continuum, 2004), 60. 


Thomas F. Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America (New York: Schocken Books, 1963), 145. 


like the extra bulkheads in the steerage section of the Titanic, can seriously impede the 
success and even survival of individuals who are assumed to be free and equal in the 
economic struggle. Yet such "[individualism remains a core value for people who follow 
the big business model of globalization because it affirms and reinforces their vision of 
how capitalism works." 69 As Gonzales points out, "Past experiences that reward our 
behavior (or simply fail to punish it) make our scripts and models feel reliable." But as 
the climate crisis shows, some problems are simply too immense to be solved by 
individuals working alone, however free and rational they perceive themselves to be. 

Lastly, the human assumption that nonhuman nature is merely a stage for human 
activity, a warehouse of raw materials with which to build "civilization" (i.e., not-nature), 
is based on radical anthropocentrism that also shows itself to be a faulty view of reality. 
"The selfish anthropocentric focus on human beings as the principle concern in social, 
environmental, and economic decision-making is simply untenable." 71 Life on earth 
would go on quite well without humans, but would collapse utterly without microbes. 

All of these elements of the anthropocentric, mechanistic worldview are 
inherently idolatrous. In Andrew Linzey and Dan Cohn-Sherbok's book, After Noah: 
Animals and the Liberation of Theology, they say, "By 'idolatry' we mean the attempt to 
deity the human species by regarding the interests of human beings as the sole, main or 
even exclusive concern of God the Creator." 73 But this definition only holds for people 
who give the matter any thought. I think that, very often, even people of faith frequently 

69 Peters 60. 

70 Laurence Gonzales, Everyday Survival, (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004), 54. 

71 Peters 26. 

72 Anne Primavesi, Sacred Gaia (London: Routledge, 2000), 17-19. 

73 Andrew Linzey and Dan Cohn-Sherbok, After Noah: Animals and the Liberation of Theology (London: 
Mobray, 1997), 118. 


forget to keep God in the equation at all. In the busyness of modern, secular life with the 
material world turned into commodities for our convenience, it is easy to forget that we 
are not God, and that our own interests should not be our sole, main or even exclusive 
concern. By setting ourselves up in the place of the Creator we break our relationship 
with the rest of the created world and dislocate our values from their Source. 

Having examined a problematic model of the world as it is, we now turn to a 
model of the world as it might be if humans could enter into right relation with the Earth. 


Chapter 3: The Ark as a Useful Model of Environmental Survival 

There is a tide in the affairs of men. 

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; 

Omitted, all the voyage of their life 

Is bound in shallows and in miseries. 

On such a full sea are we now afloat, 

And we must take the current when it serves, 

Or lose our ventures. ~ Julius Caesar, IV.iii.2 18-224 

3.1. The Ark as a Model of the World 

"What a commission it is to express a future that none think imaginable! Of 
course this cannot be done by inventing new symbols. . .Rather, it means to move back 
into the deepest memories of the community.. ." 74 Historians have written countless 
books examining the voyage of the Titanic from the time it was designed to the night it 
sank. In contrast, theologians for the most part have not made an equivalent examination 
of the voyage of the Ark, in part because it is not really a voyage in the sense of 
transportation from one place to another; unlike the Titanic, the Ark had no means of 
propulsion, and Noah and his family had no destination in mind. 75 However, as children's 
book writers and toymakers know, the humans and animals on the Ark did experience a 
voyage in the sense that they were enclosed together in the ship for at least six weeks. 
Like the story of the Titanic, the story of the Ark can serve as a useful model of the 
voyage of an imperiled community. 

Another reason why theologians have not examined the voyage of the Ark has to 
do with the biblical text itself. The entire story takes up 85 verses, from Gen. 6:1 to 9:17, 
yet the actual voyage takes up only 30 verses, none of which tell us about life aboard 

74 Walter Brueggeman, The Prophetic Imagination (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), 64. 

75 For the purposes of this thesis, at times I will refer to the story of the Ark as if it happened, and at times 
as it is portrayed as myth or literature. 


ship, with its joys and problems. To fill this lacuna, I draw on two extra-biblical sources. 

The traditional source is Jewish midrash, the rabbinic interpretations of the biblical texts. 

While midrash expands for us the meanings of the text, it at heart focuses primarily on 

the experience of the voyage and its meanings for humans. For a more contemporary 

form of midrash that goes beyond the human and into the animal realm, I turn to Alice 

Berend's 1925 Die Geschichte derArche Noah (The Story of Noah's Ark), with its 

insightful illustrations by E.B. Smith. I have read many versions of the Ark story in 

children's books and most tell the tale in the same truncated way the writers of Genesis 

do. The illustration of the voyage usually shows a tiny distant Ark, often with a giraffe 

looking out a window at the storm. In contrast, Berend and Smith's book is a work of art 

As Dorothy Sayers observed, creative artists can show us theological truths in ways that 

theologians cannot. "Poets have, indeed, often communicated in their own mode of 

expression truths identical with the theologians' truths; but just because of the difference 

in the modes of expression, we often fail to see the identity of the statements." 76 By 

complementing the Genesis text with these two forms of interpretation, I will be able to 

unpack the Ark voyage as a model of the world as it might be, a world marked by 

interrelationship, mutuality, and the hard work of hope. This is the opposite of the Titanic 

model of technological hubris, and it is the model we need if we are going to survive our 

ecological crisis. 

3.1.1. Reason for the Voyage 

The LORD saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every 
inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the LORD was 
sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the 

76 Dorothy L. Sayers, "The Image of God," in Letters to a Diminished Church (W Publishing Group, 2004), 


LORD said, "I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created — people 
together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have 
made them." (Gen. 6: 5-7) 

The most integral way that the story of the Ark is different from that of the Titanic 

is that the builders, passengers and crew of the Titanic considered threats like icebergs 

impossible, whereas the builders and passengers of the Ark would not have embarked if 

the threat of an iceberg — the Flood — had not already been a given. The Titanic had too 

few lifeboats; the Ark had no lifeboats whatsoever: the Ark was the lifeboat. The Genesis 

text emphasizes God's justification for destroying almost all humans and animals because 

of the evil of most humans. The Flood is an act of de-creation. In our own case now it is 

less true to say that God is sending us climate change to drown us for our sins than to say 

that God, following the natural laws that God made, is allowing the physical changes we 

have made in our atmosphere to melt the glaciers and icebergs, stir up more and more 

violent storms, and raise the level of the sea several feet. The fact that this may drown 

many of our bioregions, and cause drought in others, is not something God is doing to us 

and to the animals, but something we have done to ourselves and to the animals. 

3.1.2 Building of the Vessel 

But Noah found favor in the sight of the LORD. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in 
his generation; Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and 
Japheth. And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the 
earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with 
the earth. Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it 
inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three 
hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make a roof for the ark, 
and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, 
second, and third decks." (Gen. 6:8-10, 13-16) 

The statement about Noah as "a righteous man, blameless in his generation," is 

ambiguous. On one hand, "Noah is different from his generation. They are full of evil, of 


violence; he is righteous. . . . The great emphasis on Noah's difference. ... justifies his 
exemption from the universal disaster, and the choice of him to found a new race of 
Adam." 77 On the other hand, the text does not say Noah was absolutely blameless, just 
blameless in comparison to his contemporaries. "Does this damn him with faint praise 
(only in his corrupt time did he look like a hero)? Or does it praise him for transcending 
the sociomoral pressures of his period?" 78 Since, in the Hebrew Bible, God often uses 
imperfect people to do God's will in the world, either reading can work for us here. 

Most children's books about the Ark mention one element of the story that does 
not come from the biblical text, and that is the response of Noah's neighbors. The ideas 
of a major flood coming to an arid region, and of building a ship in preparation for such 
unlikely weather, draw ridicule from Noah's neighbors. However, "Noah did not let 
himself be shaken by the mockery of the unbelieving" 79 ; one might say that he was 
undeterred by the climate change deniers. "Noah knew that what he had to do was 
correct, and he did it." 80 So then we get a picture of four men and four women using hand 
tools to create an enormous ship in a meadow: a cubit size of eighteen inches would make 
the Ark a bit more than half the size of the Titanic. 

Interestingly, in Die Geschichte derArche Noah, Berend doesn't just describe 
Noah and his family building and tarring the Ark, but also shows them painting it: 
"Outside, he beautifully painted it. He tried every color in the universe until he decided 

77 Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, The Beginning of Desire: Reflections on Genesis (New York: Doubleday, 
1995), 40. 

78 Zornberg 41. 

79 Alice Berend, Die Geschichte derArche Noah (The Story of Noah's Ark), mit bildern von (illus.) E.B. 
Smith, (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer (Ernst Bohsen), 1 925), 2. All translations are my own. 

80 Berend 3. 


the right mixture." 81 This detail suggests an element often forgotten in emergency 

situations: humans need beauty to maintain a healthy relationship with their world. 

Frances Moore Lappe* argues that "beauty is not a luxury." 82 Laurence Gonzales explains 

why: "Survivors are attuned to the wonder of the world. The appreciation of beauty, the 

feeling of awe, opens the senses. ... This appreciation not only relieves stress and creates 

strong motivation, but it allows you to take in new information more effectively." 

3.1.3 Passengers & Stores 

"But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your 
sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing, of all flesh, 
you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be 
male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to 
their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind 
shall come in to you, to keep them alive. Also take with you every kind of food that is 
eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them." Noah did this; he 
did all that God commanded him. (Gen. 6:18-22) 

The biblical writers take for granted the story's mythic and fantastic elements, 

both of measurement — the size of the Ark, the number of animals, the amount of food — 

and of relationship: they never suggest that Noah had any difficulty gathering the animals 

and getting them aboard ship. In fact, the midrash emphasizes the ease of the task: "since 

animals were so anxious to do God's will, Noah had no difficulty in rounding them 

up..." 84 Again, Berend offers details that are both more and less realistic, writing that 

Noah's neighbors watched as he ran to all the animals "and flattered them, stroked and 

invited them to travel on a small trip on the new Ark. Animals are mistrustful of humans. 

Berend 4. 


82 Frances Moore Lappe, Eco-Mind (New York: Nation Books, 201 1), 51. 

83 Gonzales, Deep, 273. 

84 Linzey and Cohn-Sherbok 36. 


You would be too." 85 Berend notes how animals always have to yield their fur to humans. 
"Nevertheless, the animals listened reflectively to what Mr. Noah told them." 

But it is not enough to get the animals* attention; Noah has to persuade them of 
their danger. "Noah described all the horrors and anxieties that would befall them if the 
large Flood came. But no one believes in danger before it is there. The sun was blinding, 
nowhere a cloud." 87 Their response is similar to that of Noah's human neighbors. The big 
animals refuse to believe that the water could reach their necks; the ostrich says it will 
simply stick its head in the sand. None believe that it will rain or that if it does there will 
"be such a giant inundation as the old gentleman imagined. And if such a flood came, the 
large colossus of a ship would probably sink." 88 Finally, an upset Noah asks the falcons, 
storks and swallows to take his message everywhere, to convince the other animals to 
come. Berend recognizes the alienation between humans and nonhumans and addresses it 
directly. The animals have good reasons to fear humans and few to trust them. Noah's 
fear for the animals shows Noah's righteousness: in Jewish law, "the sign of a righteous 
person was concern for the welfare of God's creatures.... Conversely, the maltreatment 
of animals was viewed as a sign of wickedness and roundly condemned." 

Part of Noah's righteousness, according to midrash, is his knowledge of what and 
when to feed all the different creatures: 

One view is that he brought pressed figs, an acceptable neutral diet for men and 
animals. ("Food for you and for them" indicates a single diet for both.) But 
another view is that he brought a different, individual diet for each species. ("For 

Berend 5. 


86 Berend 5. 

87 Berend 6. 

88 Berend 6. 

89 Linzey and Cohn-Sherbok 27. For a consideration of the problem of animal sacrifice in the Jewish 
tradition, please see Appendix B. 


you and for them" indicates specific, individual foods for each species, with the 
human diet primary.) 90 

This second view is the one Berend takes. She writes, "Noah hurried, gathering a freight 

of food, after each type of taste of all the different animals. That was no small work, for 

at that time the animals did not yet eat each other. The food had to be good, for otherwise 

Noah, for all his effort, would have at the end only a fully fed lion couple on board." 91 

This agrees with the text of Genesis 1 , which commands a vegetarian diet for humans and 

nonhumans, and the text of the Noahic covenant after the flood in Genesis 9, which 

allows humans to eat meat. But aboard the Ark, the fare for all is Edenic vegetarianism. 

3.1.4 Embarkation 

And after seven days the waters of the flood came on the earth. ... all the fountains of the 
great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. On the very same 
day Noah with his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives 
of his sons entered the ark, they and every wild animal of every kind, and all domestic 
animals of every kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every bird of 
every kind--every bird, every winged creature. . . .And those that entered, male and female 
of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in. (Gen. 7:10, 
lib, 13-14, 16) 

In Berend' s book, Noah's sons' dogs help herd the elephants, polar bears, 

giraffes, peacocks and all into the Ark, showing clearly the difference between the wild 

animals and the domestic. Wild animals serve their own agendas; domestic animals serve 

human agendas. But once on board, order breaks down. The narrator tells us that "the 

animals behaved like animals to each other," 92 when in fact they are behaving like 

humans, complaining about the other members of their community. "The pigs thought the 

foxes stank. The cat snarled that the pig should hold its nose. The rabbits were highly 

90 Zornberg 59-60. 

91 Berend 13. 
Berend 8. 



unmannerly, and the ox was outraged about that." 93 Fed up with the "unpleasantness," 

Noah explains that "mutual indulgence would be the first condition for all living and 

working together." 94 1 find it interesting that the principle chosen is mutual indulgence 

rather than mutual respect or mutual cooperation. But respect is more passive, a way of 

looking at other people, and cooperation is more active, suggesting a shared endeavor. 

Neither is as useful for guiding one's actions when one is enclosed in a shared space with 

strangers. Indulgence suggests that we all sacrifice a little for each other. 

Having gained silence, Noah hears tramping outside the ship and sees with 

"marveling joy" that the other animals he had called are coming in pairs. He wonders, 

"Had his well-meant words carried? Was it instinct?. ... It was enough that they were 

there. He said only, 'Come on in, gentlemen.' And left the rest to God." 95 Last come 

Noah's wife, reproachful, and the wives of Noah's sons, who "took on the thing more 

easily than the silent mother. Young people are always happy to travel even if there could 

be rainy weather." 96 

3.1.5 Threat to Life 

The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the 
ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters swelled and increased greatly on the 
earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters. The waters swelled so mightily on the 
earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; the waters 
swelled above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that 
moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that 
swarm on the earth, and all human beings; everything on dry land in whose nostrils was 
the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the 
ground, human beings and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were 
blotted out from the earth. (Gen. 7:17-23a) 

93 Berend 8. 

94 Berend 8. 

95 Berend 10. 


Berend 13. 


The language describing the Flood is similar to the language from the creation 

story in Genesis 1 ; God basically undoes creation, covering the mountains and land, and 

"blotting out" all flesh. This is a powerful act of regret and, seemingly, of retributive 

justice. In his commentary on the Tanakh, the eleventh-century Rabbi Rashi described 

God's action as "andralamousia? a Greek term for "summary mass execution" that does 

not discriminate between individual merit and guilt. 97 Adam, in Genesis 2, is "originally 

formed out of the judicious mixture of dust and water. ... All that is necessary to ruin the 

structure of his being is to infiltrate him with an excess of water. . ." 

3.1.6 Voyage 

Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. And the waters swelled on 
the earth for one hundred fifty days. (Gen. 7:23b-4) 

The Genesis writers, interested in this tale for its ability to convey a message 
about the evil of humankind and the justice and mercy of God, spend no time considering 
the situation of the creatures, human and nonhuman, on the Ark. But even in single- 
species situations, community life is fraught with difficulties, just as it can offer joys. 
Alice Berend's interpretation of this story makes this truth clearer than any other similar 
text I have seen. One thing she does that few writers do is consider the suffering of the 
Flood's victims and of its survivors on seeing their world drown. At first, when the rain 
begins, the narrator tells us that "[a]ll the inmates of the ark triumphed. Now they were 
the ones able to mock. . . . But Noah did not laugh. He knew what would come." 99 It is 
natural to feel better ourselves when others experience pain we have known; probably 
schadenfreude comes as naturally to humans as empathy. What makes us more or less 

97 Zomberg 44. 

98 Zomberg 47. 


ethical is our ability to resist appreciating others' suffering, our ability to widen our circle 
of concern to include more and more — whether humans or nonhumans. Berend suggests 
that Noah, because of his faith in God's pronouncement that all who are not on the Ark 
will be blotted out, and because of the compassion that is the basis of his righteousness, 
has a very wide circle of concern, and this may not be because he is human. "All the 
inmates of the Ark" could very well include Noah's wife, sons, and daughters-in-law. No, 
apparently what makes Noah more compassionate than others is that he is Noah. And as 
the rain continued "everyone grasped why Noah was not in the mood to joke." 100 Perhaps 
no one can see such suffering and remain unmoved. "The waters climbed and climbed. 
The trees disappeared, the hills sank, and even the mountains drowned. There was no dry 
spot on Earth. All that was not able to live in the water had to go to ruin." 101 Ethically, it 
is interesting the way the construction of inside/outside changes here. Normally, in our 
anthropocentric world, humans consider nonhuman creatures to be Others, outside our 
circle of moral concern, while all humans are considered to be inside together. Here, 
some animals become insiders and some humans become outsiders. This is theologically 
problematic since the biblical text claims that God decides who is in and who is out. 

The other rare thing that Berend does is imagine what life on the Ark might really 
have been like for those forty days (or twelve months, if we take the Priestly account). 
The Ark's passengers experience seasickness, cheerfulness, homesickness, quarrel and 
dispute before they return to land. And they experience them all according to their kind. 

100 Berend 16. 

101 Berend 16. 


First, Berend reminds us that those on the Ark "were not born as seafarers. 

Mockery, insolence, battle air, even appetite had left them," 102 and both humans and 

nonhumans suffered in this way. All complain of nausea from the tossing of the ship; the 

cow claims to be sicker than the rest: "'Believe you,' it screamed, 'that four stomachs in 

this case are easier to bear? My gracious!" 103 They all agree that drowning would have 

been preferable. The watercolor illustrations by E.B. Smith posit a reality that is a strange 

inversion of the vision of God's holy mountain described in Isaiah 1 1:6-7: 

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf 
and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow 
and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together. ... 

All the animals look miserable. A polar bear is sprawled on his stomach, with a monkey 

lying beside him. An alligator and the male lion are sprawled back to back on the tilting 

deck, and the storks seem to be stumbling toward them. A monkey and Noah's wife are 

both reaching out to Noah, who is holding his head. Their shared misery seems to be 

creating an unlikely situation of community support and lack of conflict. 

When the storm begins to abate, their attitudes improve drastically. "The large 

Ark swam on the flood of infinity. New courage came to animal and man. . . They began 

to chat. Above all, they assured each other that they had not been the least bit seasick." 104 

The illustration of this page is similarly evocative of the vision of Isaiah 65:25a: "The 

wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox. ..." At a stone 

hearth, Noah's wife ladles soup into a bowl, while one of the other wives ties napkins 

around the pigs' necks. Joining them are an alligator, a kangaroo, pairs of monkeys, 

leopards, and foxes, and a boar. The storks, the dogs and an ostrich watch two of Noah's 

102 Berend 17. 

103 Berend 17. 

104 Berend 18. 


sons play dice. In one comer, the elephants, camels and turtles are reading the list of pairs 

of pictures of animals that is posted on one wall. In another corner, the black bears and 

flamingos are dancing while the foxes, wolves, zebras and lions look on. The giraffes are 

craning their long necks in different directions to watch all the fun. It looks like a party. 

Though Berend and Smith show Noah's wife as the feeder of the multitudes: 

Noah. singled out for praise in the midrash because of his self-evident 
sacrificial care for creatures. Each day, he fed each species its appropriate food at 
the proper time — he chopped straw for the camel, barley for the ass, vine tendrils 
for the elephant, and prepared grass for the ostrich and citrus for gazelles. 
Because of his untiring work, he was unable to sleep at night or during the day but 
the Lord richly blessed him. 105 

At this point in the story, of course, that rich blessing still lies in the future. 

After they have been getting along for a while, but also experiencing the boredom 

of shipboard life, cramped together with little light, the atmosphere changes again. "They 

were bored. Always the same pairs, always the same narrow space." 106 Avivah Zornberg 

notes that the biblical narrative emphasizes how God shut Noah and the rest into the Ark 

in Gen. 7:16: "An ambiguous slam of the door, protecting, imprisoning. Claustrophobia 

sets in, as we read of all the animal flesh, male and female, enclosed with Noah for 

twelve months." 107 She tells us the rabbis imagined Noah's constant prayer to have been 

Psalm 142:8, "Release my soul from enclosure," and suggests that his claustrophobia 

comes not just from the narrow physical space but also the narrow space of his duty, of 

"being entirely committed to the feeding of others"; the midrash "paraphrases the 

meaning of his prayer: 'for my soul is weary of the smell of the lions and the bears." 

Zornberg points out how the sense of smell is related to memory and experience. Yet 

105 Linzey and Cohn-Sherbok 27. 

106 Berend 19. 

107 Zornberg 63. 

108 Zornberg 63. 


nothing has prepared the passengers of the Ark for the variety of smells they are living 
among in that close space. 

Then, on top of this claustrophobia, we also get a sense of agoraphobia, the fear 
and anxiety that comes from wide-open spaces. Berend writes, "In addition, outside all 
around water, above water, sideways water, below water. One longs for land after 
moisture. . ." 109 In one of Smith's illustrations, we get a sense of this endless water. Smith 
frames the picture in such a way that we, the viewers, are just a little bit above the water, 
looking up at the immense, enclosed Ark. All around the Ark, we see dolphins leaping, 
while swordfish, hammerhead sharks, and sperm whales play in the water. The only 
living beings left, who are outside the Ark, are not exactly outside the moral concern of 
the passengers of the Ark, because this "outside" is their normal environment; they do not 
require Noah to house and feed them. In the background, an angry red sun sets on the 
infinite horizon of silver water. Unlike an immensity of land, which might provide 
humans with wood, rock, and metal with which to make tools with which to "master" 
their environment, this water only provides uninhabitable space. In their freedom, the 
creatures who make their home in the deeps are "insiders" — privileged agents not 
threatened by the environment; the passengers of the Ark are "outsiders" — a displaced 
minority to whom the environment is a threat. Smith, as Gaston Bachelard would say, 
"has juxtaposed in us claustrophobia and agoraphobia; he has aggravated the line of 
demarcation between outside and inside. But in doing so, from the psychological 
standpoint, he has demolished the lazy certainties of the geometrical intuitions by means 


Berend 19. 


of which psychologists sought to govern the space of intimacy." 110 Like the idyllic 
visions of Isaiah, this vision of the Ark subverts our understandings of social space. 

The waning of the festive atmosphere also causes them to remember their homes. 
"The lion roared after the desert like a baby after its mother. The llama spat fury and 
sorrow around itself. The frogs hopped into the saliva and croaked sadly, * Alas, how the 
homeland is so beautiful.'" 111 The ship is not homelike for anyone, even the humans. And 
in their longing for their different homes, the animals sing their laments according to their 
kind: "The dogs howled.... The sheep bleated. The crows cawed. The snakes hissed. The 
ducks chattered. The cats meowed. The roosters squawked. The mice chirped." 112 In the 
illustration, Noah's wife holds her ears. Righteous Noah, holding his head in his hands, 
"murmured, 'Lord, they know not what they do.'" 113 

Having sadly recalled that they were never meant to be enclosed together in a 
manmade structure, the animals and humans lose patience with each other and begin to 
quarrel. "They called each other animal names that you know today as the worst insults. 
They bored with horns, roughed each other's fur, bit, knocked, and trampled each 
other." 114 But the quarrelling is not limited to the animals. "Even Noah's mature and 
well-behaved sons slapped because Shem found the tiger taking up more room than the 
zebra. Ham and Japhet took up the most room." 1 15 The quarrel is the product of boredom 
and homesickness. In her essay, "Nostalgia and Hope in a Homeless Age," Karen J. 

110 Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, Trans. Maria Jolas (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964), 220. 






Berend 19. 
Berend 19. 
Berend 19. 
Berend 20. 
Berend 20. 


Warren distinguishes four ways of defining the word "home": as a house, as an 

intentional community, as a bioregion, and as: 

a house, intentional community, and bioregion where one 's individual and 
community basic needs, life-affirming values, and sustaining relationships are 
met. These are needs, values, and relationships that take into account both human 
and nonhuman environmental concerns, and are satisfied in respectful and 
ecologically sustainable ways. 116 

The Ark is clearly serving, for the time being, as a house and an intentional community, 

and Noah is doing his best to provide the foods that different bioregions would provide 

for sustenance. But especially for the animals who come from other climes, such as the 

polar bears and penguins, or those whose natural habitat is wide open, such as the lions 

and the birds, the Ark cannot serve as a bioregion. 

3.1.7 Threat Abated 

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were 
with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. . . . 
Then God said to Noah, "Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your 
sons' wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh — 
birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth — so that they may 
abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth." So Noah went out with his 
sons and his wife and his sons' wives. And every animal, every creeping thing, and every 
bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out of the ark by families. (Gen. 8:1, 15-18) 

Both the biblical tale and the children's version of it have happy endings. Noah 

releases birds to tell him of landfall, which they find atop Mount Ararat. God remembers 

Noah and opens the Ark to set its passengers free. Under a bright rainbow, the animals 

leave the Ark in families, though they had come aboard in pairs. Noah builds an altar and 

gives thanks to God for their deliverance, and God makes a covenant with the humans 

and with all living creatures. In our reading of this story, however, with our goal being a 

116 Karen J.Warren, "Nostalgia and Hope in a Homeless Age," in The Longing for Home, Ed. Leroy S. 
Rouner (Notre Dame: U of Notre Dame Press, 1996.), 218. Italics the author's. 


useful model for environmental survival on our endangered planet, the Ark for us is the 
Earth. There will be no Mount Ararat, no running free from the perils that beset us. So 
instead of looking forward to the hope of the rainbow and the ambiguous covenant God 
makes with all creation, promising safety and allowing creatures to eat each other's flesh, 
we will stop. We will remember Noah and his passengers, adrift on a rising sea that 
covers a devastated Earth, and we will leave them there, busy with the difficult practices 
of communal life, all in one boat, together. 
3.2 The Ark as a Model of Environmental Survival 

The worldview modeled by the Ark is very different from that modeled by the 
Titanic. The Titanic represents a world that is mechanistic, progressivist and reductionist; 
individualistic and anthropocentric; and motivated by profit and in denial of peril. In 
contrast, the Ark represents a world that is organic, systems-focused and dynamic; 
communal and biocentric; and motivated by peril and mobilized by the need for survival. 
We see these characteristics in the organization of the Ark and its passengers, and in their 
interactions. An examination of them will show their clear survival value. 

As Capra observes, we have good reasons for our modern mechanistic worldview: 
"living organisms do act, in part, like machines. They have developed a wide variety of 
machinelike parts and mechanisms. . . This does not mean that living organisms are 
machines." 117 Unlike clocks, which have a specific number of replaceable parts that work 
together in a definable, pre-established way, organisms "show a high degree of internal 
flexibility and plasticity." 118 The human brain, for example, controls the activity of 
different parts of the body and of different functions of perceiving and thinking, and yet, 

117 Capra 266. 
1,8 Capra 268. 


when one part of it is injured, another part can take over those roles. But while some 

organs can be transplanted, nothing from outside the body can replace the brain itself. 

Further, "machines are constructed, whereas organisms grow," which implies 

that "the understanding of organisms must be process-oriented." 119 We see the difference 

when we look at the reductionist investigation of the Titanic disaster, with its longing for 

simple answers, as one might reasonably expect when looking at a broken clock. But 

social realities are not machines; they are complex systems that often act like organisms. 

Machines function according to linear chains of cause and effect, and when they 
break down a single cause for the breakdown can usually be identified. In 
contrast, the functioning of organisms is guided by cyclical patterns of 
information flow known as feedback loops. ... When such a system breaks down, 
the breakdown is usually caused by multiple factors that may amplify each other 
through interdependent feedback loops. 12 

This difference is important when thinking about survival, since survival depends upon 

an accurate understanding of the world-as-it-is. Misperceptions lead to inappropriate, and 

sometimes fatal, behavior. "The ability to adapt to a changing environment is an essential 

characteristic of living organisms and of social systems." 121 Admittedly, some social 

systems do this better than others, in part due to their shared assumptions. Passengers on 

the Titanic, believing the ship unsinkable, played soccer with chunks of the iceberg that 

fell to the deck. Passengers on Berend's Ark recognize the need for mutual indulgence in 

the face of communal peril and choose to practice self-discipline. 

Another way of saying this is that living organisms are self-organizing systems: 

their "order in structure and function is not imposed by the environment but is established 

H9 Capra268. 
,20 Capra269. 
i21 Capra273. 


by the system itself." 122 They are not isolated from their environment, but interact with it 

constantly. This dynamism is different from progressivist or supercessionist activity. The 

goal is not future growth or wealth; it is present flourishing. "The two principle dynamic 

phenomena of self-organization are self-renewal. . .and self-transcendence. . ." These 

two phenomena make an organic, dynamic, systems-focused worldview more appropriate 

for human survival for the current situation of environmental catastrophe. We see both at 

work in Berend's imaginative retelling of the Ark story, with its emphasis on how the 

human and nonhuman passengers constantly renegotiate their relationships. 

Through this we also see a principle that Capra notes as coming from both "the 

study of living and nonliving matter and.. . the teachings of the mystics — the universal 

interconnectedness and interdependence of all phenomena." 124 The Ark is not a zoo with 

a compartment for each individual species, none of which interact. It is a community 

attempting to define a mutual life together. Capra also points out: 

Detailed study of ecosystems over the past decades has shown quite clearly that 
most relationships between living organisms are essentially cooperative ones, 
characterized by coexistence and interdependence, and symbiotic in various 
degrees. Although there is competition, it usually takes place within a wider 
context of cooperation, so that the larger system is kept in balance. 125 

This contrasts with the Darwinist assumptions underlying modern life. In Darwin's 
theory of evolution, "the unit of survival was the species," but that is an inaccurate 
model. "What survives is the organism-in-its-environment. An organism that thinks only 
of its own survival will invariably destroy its environment and, as we are learning from 

122 Capra 269. 

123 Capra 269. 

124 Capra 303. 

125 Capra 279. 


bitter experience, will thus destroy itself." 126 The advantage of the voyage model is that it 

models the community-in-its-environment, and the Ark model emphasizes the primary 

importance of nonhuman nature in-and-as environment, as well as in-and-as community. 

Finally, the Ark exemplifies the opposite of the "technological hubris" shown 

with the Titanic. Noah and his passengers show a humility and flexibility of perception 

that enable their survival. They embody the three rules of survival: "Perceive, believe, 

then act. . . . [A]s the environment changes (and it always does), what you need is 

versatility, the ability to perceive what's really happening and adapt to it." 127 Like Noah, 

survivors analyze, plan, and take correct decisive action, but the crucial piece must 

happen first. "They see opportunity. . . in their situation. They move through denial, 

anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance very rapidly.... It begins with the paradox 

of seeing reality — how hopeless it would seem to an outside observer — but acting with 

the expectation of success." 128 This is one main reason I choose to stop short of the 

covenant and the rainbow. Although the covenant emphasizes God's relationship with 

nonhuman nature as well as with humans, in fact it presents as constructed by God the 

alienation between humans and animals 129 ; speaking to the humans, God says: 

The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every 
bird of the air on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on 
everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand 
they are delivered. Every moving thing shall be food for you... (Gen. 9:2-3a) 

This is even more problematic when we consider that this change in relationship between 
humans and nonhumans seems to have been caused by their long journey together. This 


Capra 288, 289. 

127 Gonzales, Deep, 263. 

128 Gonzales, Deep, 271. 

129 John Olley, "Mixed Blessings for Animals: The Contrasts of Genesis 9," in The Earth Story in Genesis, 
Ed. Norman Habel and Shirley Wurst (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2000), 130. 


is not an outcome of communal life that I think we want to perpetuate. And the rainbow, 
with its easy promise that God will not devastate the world with another flood, is 
misleading in a time when the sea level is expected to rise at least three feet by 2050, 
causing massive infrastructure breakdown, forced migration, and crop failure in the 
world's low-lying cities and countries. 130 

The hope I see in the Ark story does not need to be given to the Ark's passengers 
because it is a hope that never leaves them. It is a hope exemplified by Frances Moore 
Lappe, who wrote Diet for a Small Planet in 1971, and forty years later is still doggedly 
working to empower people for environmental flourishing. She says, "Hope is not 
wishful thinking. ... It is a stance toward life we can choose. . .or not. ... We can only have 
honest, effective hope if the frame through which we see is an accurate representation of 
how the world works." 131 It is a hope that Gonzalez says must paradoxically be paired 
with resignation to allow people to survive; the resignation recenters the responsibility for 
rescue squarely on the survivors' shoulders, while the hope "fixes their determination" to 
live and empowers them to act. 132 It is the kind of hope that I believe we need to cultivate 
as a society, and, as I will argue in the next chapter, it is the kind of hope the Christian 
church is in a perfect position to embody and to teach. 
3.3 Limitations and Adjustments 

The Ark model, being more relational and less anthropocentric than the Titanic 
model, and having survival rather than luxury as its central theme, is better than the 
Titanic model, but it also is imperfect, both in the elements of the story itself and the way 

130 Peter D. Ward, The Flooded Earth: Our Future as a World without Ice Caps (New York: Basic Books, 
2010), 20. Ward, a paleontologist, believes that catastrophic sea-level rise of this kind was the basis for the 
Noah story and other cultures' flood myths. 

131 LappS 173. 

132 Gonzales, Deep, 200, 273. 


it has been used throughout history. First, the choice of Noah, his wife, sons and their 
wives privileges one family and heteronormative social constructs that require pair- 
bonding. Ethnic Others, homosexuals, and unpaired humans are left to drown. 133 Second, 
the choice of male-female pairs, beyond repeating the assumption of heteronormativity in 
nonhuman nature, also participates in what Whitehead called the "fallacy of misplaced 
concreteness," the assumption that the generalized "specimen" is a truer representation of 
a group than the actual individual members of the group. The idea that human fault 
should lead to divine punishment, not only of humans but of nonhuman nature as well, is 
problematic also. Third, we know the suffering caused by St. Cyprian's concept of extra 
ecclesiam nulla salus; this weakness should be easier to counteract by posing the Earth, 
rather than the Church, as the lifeboat. More difficult is the use that has been made of 
Noah's three sons as the progenitors of different races of humanity and of their 
differences as justifications for enslavement. Nevertheless, for the purposes of modeling 
worldviews, the story of the Ark voyage is a familiar tale, popular with children and 
adults that is also deeply resonant in its potential for helping us envision another way of 
being in the world, a way that privileges community over individuals, and flourishing 
over profit and loss. 

133 From this perspective, the Titanic would appear superior, as one-third of its passengers were saved in its 
lifeboats, as opposed to a microscopic specimen of the passengers of Earth saved in the lifeboat of the Ark. 
This is a valuable lesson; we know that, however large and however many lifeboats we construct, we will 
be unable to save everyone — human or nonhuman — from the iceberg of global climate change. 


Chapter 4: Conclusions and Future Directions 

Full fathom five thy father lies: 
Of his bones are coral made: 
Those are pearls that were his eyes: 
Nothing of him that doth fade 
But doth suffer a sea change 
Into something rich and strange. 

- The Tempest, I.ii.394-9 

Winston Churchill, a survivor and the leader of a nation of survivors, once said, 
"We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us." The same can be said of our 
worldviews. Western civilization in the modern era has constructed and disseminated 
patterns of perceiving and acting in the world that are powerful and deeply problematic 
for the survival of life on Earth. They lead us to faulty mental models of reality that cause 
us to engage in inappropriate behaviors — consumerism, reliance on fossil fuels, climate 
change denial — that, far from helping us survive the current crisis, will only serve to 
imperil us further. But we are not only shaped by our inherited worldviews. We are also 
shaped by our faith in God, our communal life together in Christ, and the sustaining 
power of the Holy Spirit. 

In the long term, I believe that the environmental catastrophe that has already 
begun will force the Church to transform its roles and functions on all levels. When sea- 
level rise and storm surges cause coastal flooding worldwide, "the damage to agriculture, 
infrastructure, and other developed human property will be enormous" and major 
economic depression is quite likely. 134 Major portions of the populations of affected low- 
lying areas will be dislocated. Amid such conditions, stewardship may transform from 


Ward 35. 


administrative finance to political activism. Hospitality may transform from making 
coffee after liturgy to seeking housing for displaced people. 

But such transformation is highly unlikely unless Christians first accept the hard 
science warning us of the future to come. In the words oiGaudiem et Spes, "At all times 
the Church carries the responsibility of reading the signs of the time and of interpreting 
them in the light of the Gospel, if it is to carry out its task." 135 For this reason, I believe 
that what we must first work to transform is formation itself, moving it out of the ambit 
of the clergy and into the sphere of the laity, changing the pedagogy of the learning 
experience, and consciously building into formation curricula institutional analysis, 
systems-thinking, and an ethic based on the theory of responsive cohesion promoted by 
the ethicist Warwick Fox. 

The advantage the laity have is that our lives are firmly anchored in the world that 
is changing. In our families, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces, we are in close 
relationship to the material world that is our environment, and here I mean environment 
both as the "ecosystematicalry self-organizing" natural environment and as the 
"nonhuman, nonsentient, nonliving, and intentionally organized... human-constructed" 
built environment. 136 The average Christian in North America today is far less likely to 
be like Moses or Paul, traveling long distances to do God's bidding, and more likely to be 
like Noah doing God's work in their local community, whether it be a classroom, a 
laboratory, a temp agency, or an electricians union. What laypeople can bring to the 

135 "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World," in Vatican Council 11: The Conciliar and 
Post Conciliar Documents, Vol. 1 . New Revised Ed. Ed. Austin Flannery (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 

136 Warwick Fox, A Theory of General Ethics: Human Relationships, Nature, and the Built Environment 
(Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2006), 13. 


project of formation in the face of environmental crisis is precisely our breadth of 

experience in the created world and the built world, in nature and culture. 

We will need to act at the congregational level, creating study groups to 

disseminate information and help people reflect on it theologically and ethically, to 

discern what God is calling us to do not just within our congregations and denominations 

but within our family-, school- and work-lives, and indeed our lives as citizens. Teaching 

Christians how to do the kind of institutional analyses that Episcopal Divinity School 

teaches in its Foundations course will spread the understanding of the interlocking 

oppressions that are at the heart of not only socioeconomic inequality but also ecological 

unsustainability. What Noah's story shows, if nothing else, is the fundamental 

interrelationship of all God's creatures. It also points to a new way of doing formation, a 

way based on the macro-analysis seminars that came out of the civil rights, anti-poverty 

and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 70s: 

The pioneering participants realized that much more material could be covered if 
participants reported on different readings rather than everyone reading the same 
thing. . . . Practices from group dynamics, the women's movement, and other 
sources could equalize participation and maximize the social change impact of the 
learning process. 

This study group pedagogy, with its emphasis on mutual knowledge formation that leads 
to meaningful social action could serve as a good model for what we might call mutual 

Such a pedagogy would model as well as teach a more organic, relational 
worldview of the kind that undergirds Warwick Fox's theory of general ethics. Fox 
argues that "the source of the most fundamental value there is in the world — the 

137 Robert A. Irwin, Building a Peace System (Washington, DC: ExPro Press, 1989), 223. 


foundational value — consists in a basic relational quality. . .that can be described as one 
of responsive cohesion"™ It is beyond the scope of this thesis to examine responsive 
cohesion in depth; however, a brief definition is "cohesion that arises through the mutual 
responsiveness of the elements or salient features of the matter under consideration 
(regardless of whether that responsiveness can best be characterized as intentional or 
merely functional, literal or metaphorical)." 139 Fox points out that the true responsiveness 
is not formulaic or routine but rather "occurs when things can be characterized as 
answering to each other in a deep, significant, meaningful, or genuine sense as opposed 
to a superficial. . .or inauthentic sense." 140 It has a flow and a liveliness that we can feel, 
whether we use it to describe people, places, architecture, conversations, art, or even 
ideas. Such a fundamental value will allow us to make judgments about the interhuman 
issues, as Kantian ethics do; and about animal welfare and ecosystem integrity issues, as 
environmental ethics do; and also about ethics of the human-constructed environment, 
from questions of sustainability to questions of aesthetics. Given that more than half of 
the world's seven billion humans now live in cities, we desperately need to learn an ethic 
that will help us navigate the complexities of sustainability not just between humans, or 
between humans and nonhumans, but also between all of us and our built environments. 
Whether the world is a Titanic or an Ark for us, the building matters. 

Finally, if we are to survive, we must remember that, as Gonzales tells us, 
"Gratitude, humility, wonder, imagination, and cold, logical determination: these are the 
survivor's tools of mind." 141 The first four of these are commonly seen as positive 

138 Fox 59. Italics the author's. 

139 Fox 73. Italics the author's. 


Fox 74. 

141 Gonzales, Deep, 200. 


religious values; the last is not, though our forebears in the faith show it repeatedly 
throughout the Bible. The Church is ideally placed to model cold, logical determination 
tempered by gratitude, wonder, imagination, and especially humility. But because 
humility rarely comes naturally to institutions, I believe we will require a sea change in 
the Church to become the kind of people who can make up a humble institution. 

A sea change of the kind Shakespeare describes in The Tempest is a 
transformation where the form is retained but substance is replaced. That sounds 
sacramental to me. Change can be frightening. And change is the way life happens. "So 
we have no choice about whether to change the world. We are changing it every day. The 
choice is only whether our acts contribute to the world we want. . .or not." I would add 
that God's good and sometimes violent world is going to change us as well, whether we 
like it or not. But how we face it, and when we begin to face it, may decide whether we 
are blotted off the face of the Earth, or change into something rich and strange, like the 
communities in Isaiah's prophecies. 

The water is rising. It is time to decide. 

Prayer for Travelers at Sea: 

O ALMIGHTY God, whose way is in the sea, and whose paths are in the great 
waters; Be present, we beseech thee, with our brethren in the manifold dangers of 
the deep; protect them from all its perils; prosper them in their course; and bring 
them in safety to the haven where they would be, with a grateful sense of thy 
mercies; through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen. 

~ Scottish Book of Common Prayer 1912 



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Appendix B: The Problem of Animal Sacrifice 

Readers familiar with the prominence of animal sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible 
may be surprised at the assertion that care for nonhuman creatures was considered an 
important part of righteousness. However two things need to be considered. 

First, any tradition as long as the Jewish tradition is bound to have apparent 
inconsistencies due to the abundance of cultural accretions over the centuries. And most 
human cultures, including our own today, have inconsistent relations with nonhuman 
animals, as illustrated in the title of a recent book examining these paradoxes: Some We 
Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat. 

More importantly, however, a closer look at the variety of animal and non-animal 
sacrifices prescribed in Leviticus suggests that ancient Hebrew animal sacrifice was not 
the "unholy waste" that it might appear to us today. 1 As Jonathan Morgan observes, the 
repeated insistence that the sacrificial animals be perfect and without blemish not only 
ensured that weak animal were not "offloaded as offering (Lev. 22.21-25)— a point which 
testifies to the fact that he economic loss to the offerer was not insignificant. . ." The 
requirement also ensured "that the animal was seen as worthy of, and able to live up to, 
the cultic role required of it. In order to perform is ritualistic role, the sacrificial animal 

needed to be holy." 

Morgan differentiates between members of the community of the covenant, who 
would be harmed by the withdrawal of God's presence, and members of the community 
culpable for sin. It is only by virtue of the sacrificial animal's membership in the first but 

1 Jonathan Morgan, "Sacrifice in Leviticus: Eco-Friendly Ritual or Unholy Waste?" in Ecological 
Hermemutics, Ed. David G. Horrell, Cherryl Hunt, Christopher Southgate, and Francesca Stavrakopoulou 
(New York: T&T Clark, 201 0), 33. 

2 Morgan 42. 

3 Ibid. 


not the second community that it can perform its role. "Therefore, far from being a poor 
substitute, the sacrificed animal is a holy thing that performs a role on behalf of humans 
which they could not and could never perform for themselves." 4 

It is true that Morgan's own language describing the sacrificial use of animals 
supports an instrumentalist view of them as things, a view largely supported in the 
writings of classical and Christian thinkers. However, "the important thing to grasp is that 
the legacy of Aristotle — and Augustine and Aquinas — represent only one way of looking 
at the world. There are others: and these other ways can arguably claim to be as, if not 
more, authentically Jewish and Christian as the dominant ones that obscured them." 5 

4 Ibid. 

5 Linzey and Cohn-Sherbok 13. 


■ l"/l 

f*3 * ' 4^1' 

j) 223-fc 

n: Principles (or Democratic 
Social Change SfudyGroups 

movement. That movement began in the early 1970s among' 

poverty, and antiwar movements. Many of those arrets tad b J^ * ^ J * 

out and democratic society whose remaining problems - pockets pox eny, i 

co ,d and would be solved by citizen initiatives to prompt government acuon . Irtttead .^V found 

, stubborn power structure responsive only to extraordinary of fo s and . a. to a . n *e cm! 

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^a host of new problems entered public awareness, beginning with the emergence of the 
women's liberation, gay liberation, and ecology movements. 

Parallels and interconnections among such problems and ^<^£ *£ W 
many activist, to decide that they were up against a "system. While a . f "^"™^,™£ necd 
could define that system, many found old categories and PT^£*£"£ ^ how 
to increase their understanding of what was wrong, how things might be different, and 
change could be brought about. 

Traditional education, compartmentalized into disciplines, slow to recognize new realities, and 
5SS injustice, was no, the answer. Vet independent study groups faced diffuses, 
n Where to begin' How to make the costs in time and materials manageable? How to insure 
tat the learn ng process fostered rather than undermined activism, and remedied rather ton 
accentuated .h= g inec,uali.ics of expertise and educational background participants brought to the 

Macroanalysis seminars were devised with these concerns in mind G*^£££*&'_ 
was coined to indicate the importance of getting ihe "tag picture -™j££z£aZo 
of how different problems were related, but soon "macro seminar, macro format, and macro 
prtlcess' rerctrmd P much to the unique cnmbinaiion of learning and empowerment proc- 
esses used.) 

The pioneering participants realized that much more material could be covered if P^P™* 
cnooeTon liflLnt readings rather than everyone reading the same tang. Ideas as to useful 
X ma te and growing* pert*e, could be shared ifshtdy group ^P"»^SS. used 
recommended outline of topics and readings thai could be revised over n c tas other gnuip u«td 
it -id found newer or better materials. Practices from group dynamics, the women s movement, 
LTouStS could equalize participation and maximize the soda, change impact ol the 
learning process. 

The lirst edition of Orvanizin^ Macm-Anafysti Seminar A Manual was published in 1972 (in 
m]™pWoy IheThiladelphia Macro-Ana.vsis Collective, It contained extensive group process 
sug^ions tind an outline of 24 (or, optionally, ,2) weeks of readings grouped In five parts. 



ecological problems, U.S. relations with the Third World, U.S. domestic problems, visions of a 
boner society, and strategies for getting from here to there. From 1972 through the early 1980s 
some 500 macro-analysis seminars were conducted in the U.S., Canada, and other countries, and 
several revised editions of the reading list were prepared. Most seminars were organized by social 
change activists, many through religious groups, and many also in over a dozen colleges and 
universities which conducted macro .seminars for course credit at the initiative of faculty or stu- 

The "macro" formal and processes were used in other "macro manuals" with readings adapted to 
other countries, or focused on subjects such as Peace Conversion, Urban Transportation, Political 
Theory and Strategy, Multinational Corporations, and Central America. 

Portions of the 1975 "macro manual," reproduced verbatim or slightly revised, make up part of die 
"Mow to Organize a Peace System Study Group" section of this book. Hie name "macro-analysis 
seminar," never very clear to newcomers, has been dropped in favor of the wordy but less opaque 
"democratic social change study group"; but all the essentials of die participatory, activism-oriented 
approach have been retained. 

The text that follows, originally entitled "Underlying Principles of Macro -Ana lysis" (1975), was, if 
memory serves, mostly written by die late Jim Xunes-Schrag, a lively and dedicated grassroots 
educator who is sorely missed. It has been abridged and slightly revised to improve its clarity and 
relevance for peace system study groups. The "we" in the text, referring to the Philadelphia Macro- 
Analysis Collective, no longer exist as such. But, as in 1975, it seems important — precisely 
because participants are strongly encouraged to adapt die format and processes to their own needs 
— to spell out the principles that have made for successful democratic study groups. 

This text makes explicit the principles, values, and assumptions we have found valuable for 
democratic social change study groups. In addition to making the principles clear, it should help 
study group organizers and participants make changes if they want to (a) agree that a certain 
principle is good and innovate in how to apply it; (b) lay aside a principle and develop an alterna- 
tive one, and practical ways of implementing it; (c) incorporate new principles and ways of imple- 
menting them. Any of these may work out well as long as the innovators are conscious of what 
they arc doing. It is important to be really familiar with the format and the various processes and 
the pan they play in implementing the guiding principles before trying to change them. 

This is not to discourage creativity — only to caution that inadequately thought-out changes may 
disorient a study group or damage its morale. Experience and thoughtful experimentation, on the 
other hand, can yield valuable lessons. For example, a major lesson of past study groups is the 
importance of encouraging a positive, hopeful, mutually affirming and trusting attitude among 


ffpJtaSiples forStudyGroups 

• oa „ts Why' Bee^.»-l««-orU«8^^'^^^^ < n^^ 

A. Group Process 

!i sTfor many reasons, two very important ones .bung *£^ „ Ucing k now at every 

XCSt charge or the .earning situauon. ^ ^ 

genTwhidt is on a Urge sheet of paper " c ^^e du res encouraging equal paruapa- 
mo and is open to changes suggested by any £™P»£ ' is not lo te interrupted, 
tonTnc.ude P several occasions ™* ^^ "* ailabiUty of cxe rcises to ««* 
reoort giving, brainstorming, and th.nk and hster , a u Qne of a small numb er 

SU of people who tend to ^»ota£* W £ J whcn one's matches 
of allotted matches each time .^^^l^K opportunity to contribute .nformat.on, 

Umekeepe,etc. f lrusl inclu de the values clarification exercises' 

Pro cedures which encourage this deepening •^^^. udy gr oup ; excitement shanng, 

r nd ssr^rs^^E ,U* «* — * 

we will grow In our reliance on and respect forourabmiy do -j ^ ^ 

ackle problems, rather than concluding that only th ' «P^ know 
tesues This principle breaks down Into two more specific ones. 

tant in producing Lhis sense of achievement includes 

, ■ i- -, • ifmrh renort is finished on time, there will be Utne 
(a) Careful adherence to suggested time l.m.b. If cad report un ^ ^ 

in the session to relate new information to soaa d» «^™SSi an ongoing sense of 
These achievements in turn lead to Bnahng topjes a ex cctxd c ea n a » ^ 

momentum and achievement. If reports are repcta^ long ^on 
group may get behind schedule, etc., and a sense of failure can easii} 

0* Sensitivity in lodging how -^T«^JZZS£Stt2& 

To get off on tangents and not end up where you wanted to he. 

W Being careful to aUow significant amounts of time ^"^^^^SU, 
done with it. This may seem unimportant ,1 aeon ideas »»?3^*X ideas back Into 

but is in fact valuable for two reasons. I-irst. participants w.U usuad y tak >*£££ 
their own lives, and into Other groups they're involved ^^^g^^m reminds 
Second, generating ideas for social change «^^3^S3£3Se» the 
the group of all the things that could be do, e Th « a npo^ . 

SSSX £HE=J - - 2SSS -T group aiso reminds me 

group how much it has accomplished. 

CD Sensitivity in making efficient use -£--£ ^— rfS^£^ 

S^^^ST^ESS S-. r^s - intense and ovenvhek, 


fwportflw/. Precisely because social change study groups have a ver> scno , , 

226 ' 

encrgy fto m many — One is me — ^SSSZ^^S^^ 

Sow Others On addition to cxalcmcnL sha nns> are sing B. ^ moffi crcaUVC 

liov each oto through both work and play. 

.*•_. • m ic nhced at the end of the group 
5 fcgKfer <»*« <*f <«**» t1 ' fl f '''^ ' r;;;", c pi ous principles. An evaluation 
procefs seaion in some ways ,i en con P m eM « >>< ■ I ^ of parlicipanl s, is a 

£ is both frank and hones,, and at the san ™ »» *£ ^ ^ are going in terms of the 
crucial mechanism for sharing everyone s assessment o, o .„ m;[k , 

phnciples outlined above, and for makmg use »»^ ^ |cmral [hc proce ss of molding the 
frnprovemems for the future. It is ,he ™l™ «° ^ n , lo slren g,hcn group morale and 
study group structure to meet the group s particular nee. , 
m"rcaK energy by reflecting on things that wen, well. 

B. Topics and Readings 

. , ;,/ Thu is imoortant because the study 

6. WMl of the overall franwork <£«.**• £**,£« ' , m ' cwort c helps people build 
of a set of topics which have been *?^»°£d'?£Z, series of topics usually doestV, 

7. *» «m topics added are relevant 10 ac, '™ ^ r ^f ^S,ni^^e grotrp may 


, , ■ ,i v *.n/,i. and anv new ones added by groups, 

g. A „ entasis on reading ^J^'^^o^^^ '^ ^>T T' 
that go to the toots of problem. 'Going < te roots o ■- bca „ sc of vest ed 

what is really necessary to solve the prnl em and nob n g ^ apprMcheA Many of 

interests which would be threatened if a true <"<***» °' , IiUca , an d economic 

^"adings prescribed In this book ad^ n ~' *££, v , cwpoin , s favoring funda- 
policies. This emphasis has been cho en r v o . aons ^ ^^ we arc aU n 
'mental change are ones which are rarely a r race . $ gn(J maga , jnc5 ) in 

santly immersed, via the mass media Cmclud ng , he presugic > ^ ^ sludy are 

various shorter-range reform arguments as well as .ug una. made g ^ ^ jl 

p eb.ems a, all. Second, often the case or fui n I c an^ ^^ [q . , dudc ;ulJl . 

activists should therefore become familiar. 1 am dpants may 



Building a Peace System 

Uon, readings defending the sums quo or advocating minimal .forms so ma. the different 
perspectives can be examined side by side. 

, Any nnoreaam* group may ~™ 

knoJe^ proposed ^*«^^^^ «Wt ™ k ^ *« 

solutions happen. 

C. Action 

10 . , s mallgm „ P of people, sua m ^^iSC^Sk^ 
S^Sa^SSSSS 225 L S, mnc,coun,er segrc 
^SiSe, but innumeraHe others could be gl ven> 


oufownTves, me more strength we will have to draw on in the struggle.